Back in 1978, the former JC Penney building didn’t look very classy
from the outside. Once rundown and abandoned, some doubted qualified
health care providers would ever emerge. But, what made the difference
was not the physical setting but the faculty inside.
Among them were four professors from California State Polytechnic
University, Pomona, who came on board for a year to help the fledgling
college of osteopathic medicine get its start.
More than 25 years later, three of those professors — now well into
retirement age — recently returned to Western University to reminisce
about the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific and its humble
“”(Being a founding faculty member) was one of the most interesting
things I had ever done in my career,”” said Edward T. Roche, who teaches
one course at Cal Poly as a professor emeritus. “”I wouldn’t have told
you then but I’ll tell you now: I would have done it for nothing.””
Roche was joined by Drs. James Jackson and Bruce Firstman in a tour
of Western University, taking in the new buildings and facilities,
including the new College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Jack Bath, who
started the Willed Body program at Cal Poly, was unable to attend the
reunion. Cal Poly’s new president, Mike Ortiz, as well as Donald O.
Straney, dean of Cal Poly’s College of Science, joined the tour as well.
Dr. Nadir Khan, COMP’s first faculty member, said he had very fond
memories of the early days and was thrilled to see his former colleagues.
Roche, Jackson and Firstman expressed admiration at the growth of
the campus and the technology offered to students. A few even toyed with
the idea of teaching again.
“”When our stint as adjunct professors was over, we all agreed that
COMP was a ‘going concern’ that would blossom,”” Roche said after touring
the campus and visiting with his friends. “”But none of us dreamed that it
would develop into the multifaceted organization that it is.””
President Philip Pumerantz honored the men and presented each with a
framed certificate of appreciation. He described them as four brave
“”You never forget your origins,”” Pumerantz said. “”It is a very
important time for me and my colleagues. We recently celebrated our 26th
anniversary and we owe you all a debt of gratitude for helping shape the
university into what it is today.””